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10 Stories of 2017

Hey guys!

Yes, contrary to popular belief, I am still alive and well aware of the fact that I have not written a blog post in literally forever.

As always, it was not my intention to go MIA, and the only excuse I have is that my time management skills are not a thing that got better during 2017, but I will make sure that I work on that next year.

smh gif 2.0

…wait a minute…

 

*frantic whisper* next year is tomorrow!!!

Just kidding, I TOTALLY realized that.

This year, I made more of an effort to follow through on my resolutions, and I have a story regarding each one.

So, here are my 10 Stories of 2017.

1. Be More Positive

Maintaining a positive attitude is something I’ve always struggled with and I really wanted to be better at it throughout 2017 because during 2016, I’d noticed that when I had a positive outlook on something rather than a negative one, it would have a better outcome and even if it didn’t, I still felt good about it overall. And so, I dove headfirst into 2017 with a positive mindset and a determination like no other. And it payed off.

nothing changes until you change

At every audition this year, I walked into that room telling myself I was going to do great and I walked out promising myself I did great. And regardless of how good or bad I did, whether or not I got the role, and how prepared or unprepared I was for the audition, I felt pretty darn awesome about it. I performed in our spring play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and was even cast in two other shows this year (our One Act, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, which received straight superiors at districts and will be moving on to state level competition, and our upcoming spring musical, The Addams Family) and I was able to enroll in the competitive acting class.the addams family

My positive attitude wasn’t just confined to the wonderful world of theatre, it branched on into my grades and exams back in April and May, and I’m proud to say that I passed my AP World History exam!

2017 taught me that walking into an exam or an audition or even just a regular day with a positive attitude and willingness to make it a good experience will always have a good result.

2. Take Care of Myself (Physically and Mentally)

Funny story… I totally ignored this resolution (at least, the physical care) at the beginning of the year. Then, over spring break, I wound up in the hospital for this really weird pain I was having. It wasn’t anything important, but thinking about what it could’ve been prompted me to try and take better care of myself (aka, actually taking my vitamins and such), and I did for a couple of weeks, but once the pain had gone, I started to lack on the simple everyday preventative care measures I should’ve been taking.

I didn’t think about how my everyday diet could be affecting me and I went back to my normal schedule which consisted of no breakfast, little to no lunch some days, snacking when I got home from school, and dinner.

fall in love with taking care of yourself

Then, of course, the pain returned in August just after school had started back up. I visited the hospital yet again to find out that it was, yet again, nothing important, but that not eating enough and not consistently taking my supplements may be affecting me.

I’m thankful to have had my mother force me to start thinking about my health (and also force me to start exercising regularly) when I was too blind to start doing something about it myself. It sucks to say that I didn’t take the bull by the horns and tackle this resolution without help, but I’m glad to say that for the past few months I’ve been on top of things and I’ve never felt better!

3. Practice what I Preach

This is something that’s a lot easier said than done and I’ve been working at it for a while now. I think that over time, I’ve learned to not give advice that I am unable to take myself. My biggest word of advice this year has been to always keep it real and to be authentic, which are two things I definitely consider myself to be. I’ve had no trouble practicing what I preach in that regard, however, I have in other areas.sometiems the advice you tell other people is the advice you need to follow

Something I’ve been saying all throughout 2017 is that I need to be present. What I mean by that is taking the time to look at today and not worry about what happened yesterday or what’s going to happen tomorrow and just focusing on the moment. Yeah, NOPE, lol! Being in high school consists of a lot of stress and stress sometimes means dwelling on the midterm you took the other day or anticipating the test you have tomorrow and so on and so forth.

And of course, I always say that it’s good to take a break from technology and not be immersed in the land of the cellular for too many hours a day, but let’s be real, I’m pretty darn obsessed with my device and social networks.

Practicing what I preach is something that I have the full potential to do, I just need to follow through on it.

time is what we want most but what we use worst4. Have Better Time Management

Ha. Haha. HA.

As I mentioned earlier, time management was not a thing that got better in 2017. If anything, it got worse. I developed a very lazy mindset this year, and I’m not too certain why that is, but I found myself waiting until the last minute to do things rather than completing them early as I’d done last year. I was lazy when it came to school and extremely lazy when it came to keeping up with this blog. While that is also due to lack of inspiration and motivation, I didn’t even make an effort to try, and that is completely inexcusable.

Towards the end of the year (November into December), I started to get better at being on track with my homework, but managing my time to make sure I can get everything I need to get done and still keep up with the blog as well as take time for myself is something that needs tremendous work.

5. Be a Better Friendtrue friendship

Throughout 2017, I’ve gained as well as lost many friends. Some I lost because the friendship just wasn’t working, and some because I made the decision to not have them be a part of my life. I made these types of decisions so that I could be a better friend to the friends I consider close.

Over time, I’ve learned that it is extremely difficult and quite near impossible to be a good friend when you are holding on to those that aren’t adding to your life. This year, I’ve been a better friend to my good friends by choosing to only have the friends that accept me for me, add to my life, and are good friends in return. And whether or not those friends are in the same state, or even the same country, doesn’t matter. They’re still the best friends I could ask for.

The friends I have are such amazing people and I strive to be a better friend to them every day. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect bunch. ❤

6. Be Self Confident Always

love yo selfSelf confidence is something that has been such a roller coaster this year. I’ve learned that being confident doesn’t just mean liking the way you look, but also loving your flaws and personality (even the embarrassing parts) with all your heart. I also learned that if you don’t love yourself, it’s hard to love someone else. And surprisingly, learning that lesson really helped me to be fully happy with myself. Here’s my experience.

Earlier this year, there was this guy that I really liked. Let’s call him Jeremy. Jeremy and I were already pretty good friends, and it didn’t take long for our friendship to take a different turn. We talked for a few months and I was certain that my feelings for him were strong and that he felt the same way I did. Eventually, he asked me to go on a date with him. Now, I’m not allowed to date, and so I had to ask (or beg) my mom for permission to go on this date. While she was open to the idea, she also tried really hard to bring something to my attention. I wasn’t 100% happy with myself and who I was. I was really confident in how I looked at that particular time, but I was still struggling with loving certain things about myself.

I, of course, as teenagers typically do, chose to ignore what my mom was saying. I thought I was happy with myself. I thought I was ready to go on this date. My mom thought not. And so, I didn’t get permission to go on this date for maybe a month. By that time, Jeremy had realized that he didn’t want to go on a date with me and that maybe he didn’t have feelings for me after all. Which, of course, hurt. worry about loving yourself

Here’s the thing: Jeremy was one of the reasons I felt confident with myself. I mean, someone liked me! I had to be pretty, didn’t I? I had to have a good personality, didn’t I? But no. I had it all wrong. I was pretty. I am pretty. I do have a good personality. I’ve got plenty of flaws too, but heck, those are pretty great as well! And it shouldn’t have mattered what Jeremy or anyone else thought. And it’s not at all Jeremy’s fault that I was so hurt. I know he didn’t mean to hurt me as much as I ended up being hurt, and I’m glad he decided to walk away as soon as he realized how he really felt. I should’ve loved myself before trying to allow someone into my life. Now, today, I can honestly and completely say that I am 100% happy with myself the way I am, flaws and all.

7. Have Better Focus

i don't have a short attention span, I just...Focusing is something that definitely needs work. I have a horrible habit for zoning out… a lot. For example, it’s taken my maybe 4 hours to write this blog post (which, really, was an hour long task) and I’ve taken maybe 50 breaks.

I have such a short attention span, and that’s a HUGE issue, especially for someone with so much going on. And while it’s gotten better, it still has a long way to go before I can say that I have decent focus. And so, the journey with focus continues on into the new year.

8. Communicate My Feelings

Feelings are so complicated, but I’ve learned that they’re more complicated if no one knows what you’re feeling. Humans aren’t mind readers, and it isn’t anyone’s job to pay super close attention to you and decode your mood for the day.

I think that, for the most part, I’ve done a good job with communicating whether or not I’m in a good mood throughout 2017. I can always get better at it, and I definitely still have days where I’m petty and don’t give my family or close friends a warning. Granted, they may not always care, but speaking from experience, they’d rather receive a head’s up than an unnecessary outburst because they said something that triggered my already bad mood.

9. Finish my Book

Ah, yes. The book. While I (yet again) did not complete the book I’ve been trying to write forever, I did write a play. I had a lot of fun writing the play and I’m really glad that I took the time to do it. I plan to add on to it and edit sometime soon. Going back to my 2016 reflection, writing the book this year was just not meant to be. I have faith that when it is time for the book to be written, I will have the inspiration and motivation to do so. Maybe that time will be in 2018, who knows?

10. Motivate Myself to Do My Best

I have to say that I’ve landed at 50/50 on this one. There have been plenty of days that I’ve felt motivated and I’ve done my best, and there have been tons of days that I haven’t. I think the blog is a huge example of not being motivated to do my best. Just like focus, this is one I’m gonna have to take into 2018 with me.2018

Reflecting on 2017 as a whole, it was an amazing year. I think I fell into tune with myself this year and that has helped me accomplish so much. I do, however, have a bunch to accomplish in 2018. My resolutions and goals for the new year are as follows…

  1. Manage my time (get done what needs to get done and still have time for myself)
  2. Focus (a blog post shouldn’t take 4 hours and an essay shouldn’t take 3 days)
  3. Be present (really think about the moment I’m in and thrive in it)
  4. Maintain my self confidence (I built it up, now it needs to stay up there)
  5. Set goals and follow through (this goes with practicing what I preach)

What are your goals for the new year? Are they the same as your goals for 2017? Are they different? Let’s talk about them in the comments below!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Until next time,

~ Rina Raj

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10 Lessons I Learned My Sophomore Year

goodbye may hello juneHi guys! Happy almost June!

Wow… I cannot believe that I have officially finished my sophomore year in high school. It is so unreal!

A year ago, I wrote a post titled 10 Lessons I Learned My Freshman Year and a lot of my readers found it very helpful.

This year I’ve experienced many realizations, as well as been through a TON, so I feel this post will be super beneficial for anyone entering into their sophomore year or even high school in general. 🙂

#1: Positivity is Keypositive vs negative

When I started this school year, I was extremely motivated to get good grades and do my best. As a result of having such a positive attitude, I made it through the first quarter with A’s and B’s (including my AP class!!).

However during the second quarter, negativity came into play. I lost some motivation and began to cease trying my hardest to get good grades. As a result, a C (or two) made its way onto my report card.

Third quarter, I came back strong (new year, new me LOL) making it through with all A’s and B’s. This led into fourth quarter where I had a month that did not go well but as a result of my positive mindset and motivation to pass my classes, ended the year with all A’s and B’s.

The moral of the story is that having a positive mindset will play a positive role. Essentially, positivity is the key to doing great things. 🙂

so much to do so little time#2: The clock will keep ticking

Time is elusive. In high school, there never seems to be enough. This school year, I have spent more time on homework than anything else and I definitely did not spend enough time on myself.

Some days I’d sit down to do homework around 3 pm in an effort to get to bed early. I’d end up not finishing the same assignment until midnight. Usually what ended up happening was that I’d zone out, take too many breaks, or spend a minute too long texting a friend back.

What I failed to realize is that time doesn’t stop for me when I take breaks. The clock keeps ticking whether I make productive use of that time or not.

I learned that time management is crucial in high school (and life in general). In order to juggle the many tasks on my plate next school year, I have to manage my time accordingly. As long as I make good use of those hours in a day, it’ll be rewarding.

#3: “Never give up! Great things take time.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. International Thespian Honor Society.  Advanced Chorus. Director of Publicity. Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

Exactly a year ago, I auditioned for a show entitled The Mystery of Edwin Drood and I was not casted. As I shared in one of my previous blog post, 10 Lessons I Learned My Freshman Year, I was disappointed about not getting into the show. However, I accepted the fact that I had lots of work to do to become a better actress. There were many areas I needed to improve. I had decided I needed to be more involved in theatre therefore, I had joined the set crew for that show.

Our spring play was Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I was determined to get a part. A lot of people told me I wouldn’t get in and that I wasn’t good enough. Regardless of those voices, I didn’t give up. I received excessive help from a close friend who is EXTREMELY talented and I kept practicing the script in preparation for my audition. As a result, I was casted as Mote (Mote is a member of the fairy queen’s court in the play).picasso at the lapin agile

Due to my participation in these shows, whether it was behind the scenes or on stage, I was able to gather enough points to be inducted into the International Thespian Honor Society. Thanks to Thespians, I was able to audition for the one act we plan to take to competition. Once again, despite the negative voices, I remained blissfully ignorant moving forward with my audition. I am proud to announce that I will be portraying the female lead, Germaine, in Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

Aside from theatre, I also built up confidence in chorus throughout the year and was pleasantly surprised when my teacher decided to put me into the most advanced choir class for my junior year. She also entrusted me with the position of Director of Publicity, a leadership position I am honored to have.

Words cannot describe how thankful I am for these opportunities and the chance to shine onstage. The moral of the story is that if you keep trying, great things will happen. To key is to keep working hard and never give up 🙂

what you want won't always come easy, but if you work hard and don't give up you will get there#4: Don’t take the easy way out

In high school, it is super difficult to make decisions about homework.  For example, copying homework answers from other students.

However, taking the easy way out won’t challenge you. If you don’t understand the material that you are supposed to be learning, you won’t retain the information. Trust me, I know. 😉

What I’ve learned is that doing the assignments myself helps me retain the information better, where as copying answers down from someone else simply helps me to get credit. There are no shortcuts, especially when it comes to truly learning.

#5: Sleep is kind of importantbeing a sleepy girl with a busy life is hard

I know. Sleep? In high school? Funnyyyyyy…

I have been everything but well rested this school year. I kept telling myself that it was either good grades or sleep but what I’ve learned is that it is nearly impossible to keep good grades the whole year without getting enough sleep.

It’s super difficult to function off little sleep when in a classroom setting. Unfortunately I did not retain much information on the days I was sleep deprived.

So remember that old saying? Sleep is for the weak?

Incorrect. Sleep is very important when it comes to high school. Or life in general.  In other words, make time for it because your body needs the rest so that you can function optimally during the school year.

you don't equal your gpa#6: Your test scores don’t define you

You are not the C on your report card. You are not the 2 you scored on the FSA. You are not the AP exam that didn’t go well. These things do not define you. You will do well on some tests and poorly on others. And that is okay.

I’m not saying to completely neglect your grades. I’m saying you should always remember that you are much more than your test scores. Forgive yourself, make improvements and move forward. 🙂

#7: Appreciate the little thingsthe little things the little moments they aren't little

In life, we often focus on the larger things that go wrong and fail to see the smaller things that go right.

This school year, I’ve received some unexpected hate from several individuals. This resulted in my focusing on the larger ‘negative things’ versus the smaller ‘positive things’ that truly mattered. The amount of people who tell me I’m amazing everyday is insane and I could not be more appreciative of the compliments that follow me everywhere I go.

I have learned to focus on these little things that matter. Focus on the people who matter, those who uplift you, motivate you and inspire you.

Which brings me to…

#8: Some people care, some people don’t

its the people that you least expect that help you the mostI made some new friends this year. These are people that I thought I would never, ever become close with or speak to outside of class.

When I was going through some tough times, the people I expected to be there for me weren’t, and the people I least expected to be there for me were for example, the new friends I had made.

The lesson learned is that there will always be someone there to care for you – or to be there for you. Focus on the friends who choose to be there for you. Those are the ones who are worth your time and energy.

#9: The less time you spend on something, the faster you can move onthe sooner you realize its never going to go back to the way it was the sooner you will move on

A really important thing that I’ve learned this year is that the more time I spend complaining about a situation or letting it affect me, the longer it holds me hostage and keeps me upset.

Here’s what I’ve done to cope. Whenever I am upset about something, I give myself 24 hours to talk about it, cry about it, and be mad about it. After that time passes, I let it go. I refrain from talking about it again unless it is absolutely necessary.

Drama costs time and energy and I’d rather use that time and energy towards something more productive in my life. I could be doing something fun with that time instead. Therefore, the faster I choose to cope with it and let it go, the more time I have for other wonderful things that awaits me. 🙂

life moves pretty fast if you don't stop and look around once in a while you could miss it#10: The future is scary, so focus on the present

As my sophomore year was nearing its end, I realized that college was becoming more and more real by the minute. I started to feel worried about my junior year, senior year, college, getting a job, living on my own amongst other things.

All of these thoughts are super scary.

But here’s the catch: These thoughts pertains to things that are in the future. I’ve spent so much time worrying about things that won’t be happening anytime soon that I’ve failed to be present and live in the moment.

While it’s important to plan for the future, it is very important to focus on what’s happening today. What I choose to do today is what’s going to define my future.
a summary of high school

I hope these lessons are helpful to you. I hope they bring much value to you as they have to me.

What are some lessons you have personally learned this past school year? I’d love to hear about it. Share some of your stories and comments below, and let’s discuss 🙂

Until next time,

~ Rina Raj

If 2016 Wasn’t Meant to be, Maybe 2017 is! :)

Hey guys! Happy New Year!2017 Concept Clipped Cards and Lights

This post is something I’d intended to write and post by December 31st of 2016, but it just wasn’t meant to be. So, this post is going out a little later than I would’ve liked.

Can we all just pause for a minute and think about how quickly 2016 went by?

Yeah… it went by that fast.

When December 1st came around, I immediately pulled out my 2016 resolutions to see what I’d accomplished.

  1. Finish the book
  2. Learn guitar (play at least two songs)
  3. Strive for all A’s and B’s by the end of the school year
  4. Audition for at least 3 things
  5. Have more self confidence
  6. Remember to smile
  7. Be more responsible
  8. Never miss a blog post
  9. Take care of my body (eat well, exercise, get plenty of rest)
  10. Stay strong

meant-to-beI realized I’ve accomplished very little this year. Sure, I auditioned for over three things, I was more confident in myself, I smiled more than I did in 2015, and I assumed tons of responsibility as a student and as a daughter. But I didn’t finish the book I’m writing, I only learned half of each song on guitar, the one C on my report card doesn’t cope with number 3, I missed 99% of the blog posts I was supposed to write, I completely ignored number 9, and I let myself crack instead of keeping a strong mind and heart.

Upon discovering this, I was sooooo upset with myself. So upset, in fact, that I didn’t want to write new goals for 2017 because I was stuck in the mindset of “Well, what’s the point? I won’t do it anyway.”
Not achieving my goals for 2016 got me thinking… maybe completing the things I wanted to complete just wasn’t meant to be.

Life isn’t something you can always plan precisely. Sure, you can try, but life will sometimes take you down a different road based on what needs to happen and when it needs to happen. Sometimes it’s beyond our control. fullsizerender-4

After realizing this, I ceased the thoughts on what had gone wrong the past year and started to think about all the things that went right.

Finishing the book wasn’t meant to be, but reading a book almost every week was.

Learning to play 2 songs on guitar wasn’t meant to be, but writing 5 sets of incredible lyrics was.

Having all A’s and B’s wasn’t meant to be, but passing my first AP class was.

fullsizerender-5Being part of set crew for my school’s production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, singing my first solo in choir, performing in the talent show, making new friends, spending time with old friends, seeing snow for the first time, getting cast as a fairy in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; all of these happened and were meant to be! 🙂

Let’s not start 2017 trying to beat ourselves up for not achieving the goals we’d set for 2016. Let’s spend 2017 at peace with what wasn’t meant to be in 2016, and strive for what is meant to be this year. By taking pleasure in the present and doing the best we can do.

  1. Be more positivewhat-you-want-and-what-you-need
  2. Take care of myself (physically and mentally)
  3. Practice what I preach
  4. Have better time management
  5. Be a better friend
  6. Be self confident always
  7. Have better focus
  8. Communicate my feelings
  9. Finish my book
  10. Motivate myself to do my best

Until next time,

~ Rina Raj